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Clemens is Pitcher of the Month05/03/2004 4:44 PM ET
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- In an announcement that wasn't exactly shocking news, Major League Baseball awarded Roger Clemens with his first National League Pitcher of the Month honor on Monday. Clemens was nearly perfect in his first month with the Houston Astros. Over five starts, he was 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA and only one time allowed more than one run in a single outing. He struck out 32 hitters in 32 1/3 innings pitched and walked only 14. This marks the right-hander's 15th Pitcher of the Month Award. Clemens' first arrived almost 20 years ago when he was named Pitcher of the Month in August of 1984 after compiling a 4-0 record and a 2.89 ERA for the Boston Red Sox. He won nine awards in this catgeory while with Boston, three with the Toronto Blue Jays and two with the New York Yankees.
Clemens preferred to credit his teammates who contributed to the club's 15-9 record heading into Monday's game with the Reds as the basis of his success."You just look up and down, there are so many reasons," Clemens said. "When you shine out there on the mound and you do great things, it's obviously because of your teammates. It's what those guys have done behind me, the great plays they made behind me, and at the plate." Still, Clemens, who is six strikeouts away from passing Steve Carlton for second on baseball's career list, did most of the work. He shut out the Giants on a one-hitter over seven innings in his first start and allowed one earned run over his next two starts against the Cardinals and the Brewers. He beat the Rockies in Colorado after yielding four runs over 5 2/3 innings, and in his most recent outing, he worked out of a long first inning to hold the Reds to one run over six frames. Clemens' 1.95 ERA is tied for the fourth-lowest in the National League. "The script continues," general manager Gerry Hunsicker said. "It's unbelievable. Obviously, at his age and what he's accomplished, he's pitching as good right now as he probably has in the last few years. He's been a tremendous boost to the franchise, to the team, to the city. He's just lifted everybody's spirits." Obviously, Clemens has squelched all preseason speculation that it may take him a while to adjust to National League hitters. The right-hander credited catcher Brad Ausmus for contibuting to a smooth transition. "He and I work real well together," Clemens said. "We have our main meetings that we have underneath here [in the clubhouse] and then he and I will sit together and go over a few things on how we want to break down hitters. That's the part that I've had to put the extra time in, just learning a number of hitters on each team." After winning six Cy Young awards and knowing he's a lock for the Hall of Fame five years after he retires for good, if anyone knows how to maintain his perspective, it's Clemens. "I've been doing this long enough to know I still have a long five months ahead of me," he said. "I want this body to stay sound. That's the main thing I concentrate on is that my body stays healthy and sound so I can really push these other starters. "That's the luxury we have. When I do stub my toe -- and it will happen -- I've got some horses out there that can get the job done. The crowd has been wonderful, the support has been great. A lot of big crowds, and you can hear them. When you get a couple strikes on guys, you can hear them and it's nice for the athletes out there."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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